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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Reading material for teenage daughter

9 replies

PlayerOneReady · 01/06/2023 18:46

My daughter (10) has started asking questions about sex and gender. I imagine from conversations at school.

I very much want to encourage her to develop the critical thinking skills to avoid being drawn into teenage girl gender woo. A huge turning point in my teenage years was my mum giving me a copy of ‘The Female Eunuch’. It was a bit dated even then (90s) but it absolutely opened my eyes to feminism and was the gateway drug to Naomi Wolf, Camille Paglia, Simone de Beavoir, etc. I ended up writing my university dissertation on feminism and Shakespeare as I became so interested in it.

I have retained that interest my whole life and I’m keen to pass it down to her. I wonder if you wise women can recommend some age appropriate reading material I can buy for her to read over the next few years to make her love being female, even as her body changes, which I know she will struggle with. She has already read the Milli Hill book Find Your Flow and liked it.

Any recommendations much appreciated. Thanks.

OP posts:
JellySaurus · 01/06/2023 19:10

How about Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

Not the film, the book.

WarriorN · 01/06/2023 21:29

Dunno if she's ready for it yet but I loved the vagina monologues - the copy from 25 years ago at least! They may have changed it. I believe the stage show went woo.

Droppedpencil · 03/06/2023 07:13

Bumping for you, OP, and for me too.

I want my 11yo DD to understand both sides of the debate on sex/gender identity (over time and in an age appropriate way).

She’s Y7 and just on the border between kids’ books and YA fiction. She has kids’ books full of girls who can be anything, having rollicking adventures - no sign of anyone being restricted by their sex or gender id. And she has modern YA fiction books full of angst-ridden enby teens who hate their parents, and which takes the current Stonewall concept of gender as fact.

I’m guessing there’s no YA fiction written from a GC perspective, is there?

But can anyone recommend any YA fiction with gender non-conforming protagonists who are happy to (implicitly) broaden the bandwidth of what it means to be their own sex?

In terms of non-fiction, I’m wondering about JKR’s essay. My only hesitation is that I’m reluctant to introduce DD to male violence. But if she comes home from school voicing the idea that JKR is a bigot, it’s going to be required reading. I want her to develop an informed view.

Parisj · 03/06/2023 08:07

My dd got really fired up by Caroline Criado Perez 'Invisible Women' in mid teens. She wrote a very inspired essay after reading it.

Just a word of pre warning though - you are right to give her the tools and sow the seeds for her developing critical thinking - but peer influence and fitting in rules in later teens, for better or worse, and they also go through stages of losing all that brain development before it comes back again. What I mean is that my young teen dd was fired up, intelligent, feminist and knew what she thought, and is now emerging as a woman still with all that and more - but for the years in between she has believed that she doesn't have a woman's body because she says she doesn't, struggled with the cognitive dissonance of me pointing out the sexually regressive stereotypes of the ideology, and placed more emphasis on gender identity than emerging sexuality. She is great and I have learned a lot from her too, there's something about someone opting so completely out of gender stereotypes that has really challenged my own internalised sexism helpfully. Youth culture will always challenge parents.

I just looked Caroline Criado Perez up to see what she has been doing since. Iirc she has been said to have stayed out of 'the trans debate' and also accused of being anti trans. And probably accused of the opposite too.

JellySaurus · 03/06/2023 09:05

Harriet the Spy

GNC behaviour by the heroine and her close friends, the villains being totally gender-conforming. Running against the crowd and having your own opinions. Struggling with being ostracised and with your sense of self. Acceptance of difference.

Also just a good story!

PurpleBugz · 03/06/2023 09:13

I've found listening to audiobooks myself has brought my daughter into the conversation. In particular invisible woman as just a couple minutes of that book will give lots of evidence. But I'd never let my daughter listen without me because sadly most books I've been reading recently require me to fast forward certain parts because rape stats and things in my opinion are not appropriate for young children (mine are younger that 10 though)

JellySaurus · 03/06/2023 09:36

Things A Bright Girl Can Do

Recommended by MNers a few years ago. I haven't read it myself, but dd was transfixed by it. It is about teenage girls involved in the Suffrage movements (fiction) and working out their own lives, beliefs and sexualities. One of the protagonists could be read as GNC or trans, depending on your personal views. The feminist view, of course, is that a girl who wonders whether she is a boy, and who explores her sense of fit in the world and engages in GNC behaviour, is a girl widening her horizons. The trans view of such a girl is that she is not a girl.

I don't think that it is an 'inoculating' book, but it is certainly a book you can read together and use as a jumping-off point for discussions.

UnaOfStormhold · 03/06/2023 10:00

The Dictionary of Lost Words is very powerful - a story of a young woman growing up in a sexist society, the courage of the suffragettes and how the words women need for describing their lives were systematically left out of dictionaries.

bobbicunliffe · 06/06/2023 18:08

I really liked Egalia's Daughters when I read it at about that same age. It's a satire about a sex-flipped world, where the main character is a boy who dreams to join the Navy, but that's a woman's job, and where would he even find a suit to fit him? Where would he put his penis, what if people saw his penis-holder (stand-in for bras, there's a fun scene where he goes to his first fitting and feels so awkward being measured in the store). Be aware that there is a rape scene, but it's more about how the character felt and her safety afterwards (as opposed to reading a book with facts about the porn industry and prostitution etc which is distressing as well obviously).

For critical thinking stuff, some dystopian fiction maybe? 1984 by Orwell, Kallocain by Karin Boye?

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